Shifting boxes. shifting ideas.

There were more than 8,000 of them.  More than 8,000 books in nearly 500 cartons.  A total of about 11,000 pounds.  And over the course of 6 days or so, I shifted them all.

As an independent author, I warehouse all my own books at my home.  Up until last week, they were primarily on pallets under an attached covered carport.  But after some slight renovations and reinforcements to an old existing storage shed at the back of my property, I was able to shift all my “warehoused” books (all eight titles of them) into the shed, and away from the covered carport (now happily functioning as a new patio space).

And yet, as an independent woman, it never seems to occur to me when I start these projects that I’m no longer in my twenties or even my thirties – when I could lift half my own body weight without a twinge.  So it took days longer than I had anticipated to accomplish my goal – plus the eventual assistance of a very generous neighbor who pitched in at the end to help me heft the last few boxes into place onto the highest levels.

Besides providing a great deal of personal satisfaction for having done this, I found the project to be a rather profound experience in applied philosophy.

Books – all books, everyone’s books – are human experience and thoughts; they’re observations and ideas put into words and images on paper, bound by glue and opinion, folded together with expression, stitched into place with threads of cotton and perspective.  And I began to suspect that it was easier to shift all 11,000 pounds of these boxes and books of ideas and opinions, than it is to shift even one opinion or belief in one other person’s mind.

Scientists have done studies showing how our beliefs involve many parts of the mind as well as the body (not simply one part of the brain as was once thought).  They have learned that our beliefs are “fluid” – capable of changing and growing and maturing.  Beliefs are known to be highly experiential, based in childhood, and influenced by what we’re told as well as what we witness.

Our beliefs can affect every part of our being, from physical to emotional, from our outward behavior to our individual cells.  Our beliefs not only influence how we think and act, but they can affect our health and resilience; they help us love and let us break our hearts; they see beauty where others may not, and shape our dreams as we sleep.  Our beliefs and opinions influence how we make decisions and how we taste our food, how we decorate our homes and how we raise our children.

I personally felt rather reassured when I learned that apparently our opinions or beliefs cannot be bought for any amount of money, or diminished by threat of pain.  And yet, we hold the power to revoke or change any one of our own beliefs or opinions at will, at any given moment.  And we may form a new belief just as promptly, with just the beat of a heart.

I suspect that in our current global reality, we have never had so many opportunities for forming opinions and beliefs and ideas than we do right now.  But after physically shifting over ten thousand pounds of ideas by myself during this past week, I suspect that sharing the load, lifting together, aligning with another’s generosity of spirit, is a perfectly brilliant way for achieving the same goal and reaching even greater heights.  Perhaps this can be so even if the opinions belong to someone else … perhaps even when they exist as almost half a thousand boxes, all holding another’s way of thinking and believing and feeling.